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Penny Freedom: Colin Gunnell and Greg Healey

Penny Freedom is helping small businesses, startups and freelancers unlock the value of their unpaid invoices, boosting cashflow and helping them to grow.

Names of founders: Colin Gunnel and Greg Healey

Location: Portsmouth

Date launched: The Penny platform initially went live in September 2019, but we have only gone live to the broker market in the last 6-8 weeks.

Number of employees: 15

Age of founders: Colin – 42, Greg – 39

Website: www.pennyfreedom.co.uk

Instagram: @penny_freelancer

Penny Freedom is a smart business cashflow product designed to let freelancers, startups and other small businesses quickly and easily unlock the value of their unpaid invoices. Co-founder Colin Gunnel shares the story so far…

Tell us what your business does:

Penny is a unique fintech product that offers on-demand invoice finance, giving businesses the power to control cash flow on their terms.

It’s easy and inclusive for all businesses, particularly those who are underserved by traditional lenders, including startups. There are no credit checks, minimum trading history or turnover requirements, just the ability to convert your invoices to cash as and when you need it.

Where did the idea for your business come from?  

The idea came from working with startups and SMEs that had real cash flow problems, through one of our other businesses.

How did you know there was a market for it?

We knew there was a market through years of feedback from startups and SMEs, who we were supporting as accountants, and they were asking for help with a problem – waiting for invoices to be paid and managing payments was seriously restricting their cash flow

What were you doing before starting up?

Prior to this we have been involved in launching and scaling businesses, from recruitment outsourcing to accounting services to traditional invoice financing.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes, because I always wanted to be able to influence the shape of the business quickly and meet a genuine market need.

How did you raise the money?

Private equity funding.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

Although we use sophisticated tech to make it work, the Penny business model is very simple.

Clients use the platform to raise and send their invoices; if they want their invoice paid straight away, instead of waiting out the usual invoice term, we take a % admin fee (2.5% per 14 days the payment is advanced.)

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

Technology solutions always take more thought, design, research, implementation and testing than is ever set out on your original business plan.

Naturally Covid-19 has been a challenge, as we actually launched our second [phase at the peak of the pandemic. Effectively we were launching a business at the same time as remote working was being embraced globally – which luckily Penny lends itself to very well.

We’ve overcome these challenges by curating a great team, who all bring their own strengths to the table, and by never losing focus.

What was your first big breakthrough?

Emotionally, I think the first big breakthrough for us was actually putting the product in consumers’ hands for the first time and getting very positive feedback and validation of why we built it.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Do something you are passionate about and you love, because to make a business succeed requires so much emotional and physical energy.

Try and acknowledge that no person can do everything by themselves, you have to surround yourself with good people.

Finally, really think about your decisions, as the saying goes, measure twice, cut once.

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

In five years time, I would like Penny to be the go-to business tool for startups and SMEs.

Keen to read more about more new businesses?

See more Just Started profiles here!

Alec Hawley
Alec Hawley

Alec is Startups’ resident expert on mobiles, investment, and politics. Before joining, he worked in the media for over a decade, conducting media analysis at Kantar Media and YouGov, writing for computer games sites like Gaming Respawn and Gamespew, and taking on a wide variety of freelance roles.